Monday, May 8, 2006

Celebrity Worship
A friend who used to help organize programs for me recently said she is moving on to create conferences with A- and B-list speakers only, so she wouldn't have time to do much else now. Obviously, by implication, I was not in those categories. And after having also been immersed in studying how publishing has changed to be mainly about celebrities who have a national "platform," and who can buy thousands of copies of their own books and guarantee a large audience, I sat shaking my head. What has happened to our minds? Are we afraid of the unknown, and only want proven commodities: brand name products, People magazine regulars—and insist that any talented person be made into a celebrity to have continued success? Are we too lazy to do our own research, or trust our own intuition, about what or who will perfectly fill the need in us? Are we such fad-followers that we cannot think for ourselves, originally, and start our own trends, or be positive influences for those around us?

When marketing ourselves, we are constantly hit with this need to be a celebrity by acting like one. The humble offering of high quality does not stand out as it should. I'm thinking of the American Idol tryouts and all the people who want to write a book, who are blogging, or putting out podcasts. I hope celebrity isn't the way we are distinguishing what to pay attention to, as though what stands out the most has the most worth. To me, celebrity can breed shallowness, not allow innovation and evolution, and celebrities, who become archetypal models that are inhaled by masses of self-starved people, can become "possessed" by those people. If they don't perform their assigned function, their possessors turn on them. It's especially odd that we now have spiritual superstars, mega-money-makers with big personalities and publicity agents. It's not that "real" spiritual teachers need to be poor and unknown—I just tend to trust the quieter ones.

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